Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible information in sports venues, such as arenas and stadiums. In this article, we cover best practices for accessible service in sports venues. In particular, we look at how staff can find ways to make their premises welcoming to fans who need accessible features that a venue does not have yet.
Accessible Service in Sports Venues
Service Animals, Support Persons, and Assistive Devices
Accessible sports venues must welcome all guests who enter with assistive devices, support persons, or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in all areas open to the public, including areas where fans buy or consume food. Venues should work with fans who have service animals to book seats with room for the animals. Similarly, if arenas or stadiums choose to waive or reduce fees for support-person tickets, they should advertise this pricing.
Venues must ensure that their staff are trained to interact with fans who have disabilities. Staff should understand how to communicate with fans, both in person and remotely. Additionally, staff should know where all the accessible features of their buildings or outdoor amenities are, including seats offering different kinds of accessibility. For instance, a fan with a visual impairment might want to book a front seat on the left side of the stadium. However, this fan may not be able to access the stadium’s online seating map. In this case, the fan may choose to book by phone so that a staff member can assist them.
Communication Support Awareness
Similarly, staff should know about any communication supports their locations offer. For example, staff should know whether certain games or concerts will be available with:
- American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
- Closed or open captioning
- Assistive listening devices
- Live description
Moreover, staff should know which equipment is used for which service, where it is stored, and how to trouble-shoot when it malfunctions.
If venues cannot offer some or all of these services, staff can still offer fans an accessible experience. For instance, if a venue cannot offer live description for games, it can waive the ticket fee for companions of fans with visual disabilities. A companion can act as a support person and give a verbal play-by-play of the game.
Finally, accessible service in sports venues involves welcoming amateur and professional athletes with disabilities. Arenas and stadiums should seek out and host players and teams with disabilities. Our next set of articles will cover a few sports programs for athletes with disabilities. Programs range from recreational to competitive. Athletes with disabilities participate in summer and winter sports on the local, national, and international levels.